I am a mother of an only-child, and I will admit that our house is a rather quite environment. We have laughter, conversations, and excited story-telling that fills our home, but it is quite serene compared to many homes I visit.
I am the “adopted” mother of several neighborhood children, and although I love each one of them, sometimes I get overwhelmed by the chaos. Earlier this month I was delivering a birthday gift to my friend, and neighbor, who has eight adorable children. I knocked on the door and my quiet world became anything but that.
Along with the many hugs I received, I strained my neck by turning from one excited child to the next! They all had something to share with me all at once. I would turn to one child who called out my name, only to have to look down at another child wanting me to listen to them instead. I could not keep up!
While talking with the mother who was holding her baby, another child was coming around the corner carrying the box that held the birthday cake she wanted to show me, with a sharp knife balancing on top of the box and heading straight for us! I calmly grabbed the knife, handed it to the father, and commented on the beautiful birthday cake.
One child was singing the latest song she learned in Chinese loudly to be heard over her siblings, while another one was telling me about her upcoming birthday. I smiled, laughed, hugged, and then proceeded to head for the door. They did not want to see me go, and I love when I get to see them all, but the 15 minutes of excitement wore me out.
My friend thanked me for the gift, gave me a hug, and said, “Now you get to go home to your quiet retreat.” She did not say it in a longing way, or in a sarcastic way, but more in a, “I can see it all over your face that you are ready to crack,” kind of way.
I walked back to my home; to my quiet oasis, and realized how 15 days of my life were probably shaved off my lifespan in those 15 minutes, but that it was a beautiful scene nonetheless. My neighbor would never trade her life for mine, and vice-versa, but I now know that if I ever get frazzled with life, I can come home to my quiet retreat and recharge.
I guess being an “adopted mom” is a lot like being a grandparent. You can receive hugs and kisses from the children, spoil them in ways only you can, celebrate the children’s accomplishments with the family, and then send them back to the parents to ride out their sugar high. It is a win-win!